The Chess Files
The answers are out there.
By Jim Eade
It has been so long (1986) since a team from the US has beaten a team from Russia that you could be forgiven for wondering whether it would ever happen again. It has. Although the US team ultimately finished in 5th place in Istanbul, where it was originally seeded, it scored a 9th round win over Russia.
In the Olympiads, teams are comprised of four players each. The US team scored wins on boards 1 and 2, the Russians won on board 4 and the board 3 game was a draw. Kamsky’s win over Grischuk on board 2 was not too surprising. Grischuk is rated slightly higher, but Kamsky has been one of the world’s top players for many years. Players of that caliber are all capable of defeating one another on any given day.
I was somewhat surprised by Nakamura’s win over Kramnik on board 1. Kramnik is a former World Champion, who is still at the top of his game. Upon further reflection, however, I realized that Nakamura is now firmly planted in the world’s top ten, and he has established himself as a world title contender. Should anyone be surprised when Nakamura beats anyone? Not anymore.
The only real surprise was the way their game ended. I cannot recall a similar piece configuration as the one presented below:
Black resigned in this position, because White will play Ne4+ forcing the Black king to, and trapping it on, the h-file. Checkmate would then be inevitable. If you can find another game that ended with three minor pieces against one, please write to me about it at: email@example.com.
Defeating the Russians is always a newsworthy event, as is defeating past World Champions. September 6th, 2012 was certainly a day to remember for US chess.